Ouster of Morsi: A setback for Erdoğan’s ‘new order’
MOHAMMAD PERVEZ BILGRAMIThe ancient land of the Pyramids and the land of ancient civilizations took a new stride on July 3 when its first-ever democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup d’état. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was eying a new resurgent role for his country in the geopolitics of the Middle East and North Africa with the partnership of a Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt met a huge setback.
The reverberations from the Egyptian coup have already started surfacing. Turkey, a major emerging player in the region, wholeheartedly embraced Morsi after his election victory, offering him all-out support to come out from the economic crisis and instability caused by prolonged instability after the fall of the decades-old Hosni Mubarak regime.
Turkey is the only major country in the region and elsewhere which has openly condemned the coup d’état and urged the military leadership to not cast away Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), a political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdoğan condemned the West’s double standards for not calling the coup a coup; the United States and the European Union have only expressed their concerns about Egyptian political developments and asked for the early return of democracy in the country.
The entrenched intrigue of U.S.-EU-Israel and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that ousted Morsi has alarmed Erdoğan. The monarchies of the GCC can go to any level to save their own thrones. They feared the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region after the wave of the Arab Spring. But the monarchies of the region, led by Saudi Arabia, managed to quell the democratic waves with economic freebies, yet they are still frightened by the uprising in their own backyard. Getting rid of the “Muslim Brotherhood,” the biggest democratic, Islamist force from the most populous country of the region, was their prime objective.
It is ironic that the first two Arab leaders who congratulated the Egyptian military for staging the coup was Saudi Arabian King Abdullah and embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. King Abdullah greeted the army-appointed interim President Adly Mansour, while President al-Assad directly congratulated the Egyptian army for ousting Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, terming the event as a failure for political Islam in regional politics.
The shockwaves were not only felt in Turkey, but across the entire region, from Tunisia to Morocco, and from Gaza to Syria where the brotherhood in Egypt is considered to be the parent body of all the regional brotherhood-affiliated political parties. The loss of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt has caused a volcanic effect on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in Turkey, since post-Arab Spring Egypt was the most important element of a “new order” that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is claiming to spearhead in the Middle East and North Africa.
Erdoğan’s proposed July 5 visit to Gaza will remain “proposed” for quite some time; the coup in Egypt had not only harmed his own makeup of the regional policies but also the internal dynamics of the Turkish polity, where Erdoğan is facing, if not similar but identical protests by the liberal section of the society backed by “secular” opposition parties.
Erdoğan and his AK Party government officials have spent much of the last couple of years branding Turkey as a model for Egypt and other Arab Spring countries; the reverse is now taking place. Egyptian political developments have become a nightmare scenario for Erdogan and Davutoğlu, he of “strategic depth” fame.
Erdoğan perfectly knows that his U.S.-European partners do not trust his intentions like ousted Egyptian President Morsi, in spite of Morsi’s numerous pledges to uphold all previous accords, including Camp David, and he was not able to win U.S.-Israeli confidence, as they have always reserved suspicions about his true intentions.
It remains to be seen how far the deeply frustrated Erdoğan will go to undo the coup d’état against the deposed Morsi and help the Muslim Brotherhood remain in the loop of the political game in Egypt.